Review: Kia Niro (2016)
Easy to drive. Impressive fuel economy and low running costs. Space for a family. 450 litre load area.
Ride quality is sometimes unsettled over country roads.
Kia Niro (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £21,635, brokers can source from £21,116
- Contract hire deals from £201.37 per month
- On average it achieves 71% of the official MPG figure
It might look like any other crossover, but the Kia Niro is a hybrid, much like a Toyota Prius. That means it has a high driving position and plenty of space for a family, but it's also economical, with low emissions and impressive economy in real world driving.
Power comes from the combination of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 44PS electric motor, with a total output of 141PS and 265Nm of torque. Official economy is 74.3mpg and emissions are 88g/km, with no plugging in necessary. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard, as opposed to a CVT like the Prius.
The result is a driving experience that will feel more familiar to drivers used to a conventional automatic transmission or a manual gearbox. In fact, the Niro just feels like any other car for the most part, particularly out of town, where it's easy to drive and very comfortable.
It can operate on electricity alone under some circumstances, such as at low speeds in traffic or when cruising at a steady speed. However, most of the time the engine needs to be working. Fortunately, while it is audible, it’s only really noticeable when accelerating very hard for overtakes or joining motorways.
If you can charge a car at home, there's also a plug-in hybrid model, with an official 36-mile range under electric power alone. The PHEV is only available in one trim level, the 3, meaning it's well equipped but also quite expensive.
Aside from the hybrid system, the Niro is very much like any other crossover. It’s spacious, comfortable and comes with plenty of modern technology, including standard-fit lane keep assist, Bluetooth and cruise control plus, on mid-grade ‘2’ versions, there is navigation and smartphone mirroring through Android Auto.
Space in the back is adequate even for adults, while the boot is a perfectly decent 421 litres, expandable to 1425 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Like all crossovers it has a fairly high load deck compared to hatchbacks, but that’s par for the course and the Niro is no worse than anything else.
If space, performance and convenience technology matter more to you than running cost then there are better choices, including Kia's own Sportage. But the Niro's ease of use, low running costs and impressive economy make it a great alternative to petrol or diesel-powered crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai or the SEAT Ateca - just be prepared to pay a small premium for its hybrid system.
What does a Kia Niro (2016) cost?
Kia Niro (2016): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of four stars
The Niro doesn’t really shout about its hybrid credentials inside, with a cabin layout very typical of Kia models. Material quality is very good, with sturdy plastics and a soft touch dashboard covering. The centre stack features a nice clear touchscreen system and a clear, easy-to-use button layout.
Space is reasonable in the back row, with enough leg and headroom for adults, while the boot is sizeable at 421 litres. Folding the rear seats down is straightforward and provides a flat load deck with a capacity of 1425 litres, which is enough for trips to Ikea or visits to the garden centre. The load deck is quite high compared to a hatchback, though.
There's plenty of safety equipment fitted as standard, including lane keep assistance, cruise control and a speed limiter, plus buyers can optionally specify autonomous emergency braking and a more advanced, adaptive cruise control system that can match the speed of the car ahead and maintain a safe braking distance.
Connectivity is good across all variants. Bluetooth is standard, as is a USB port and aux-in. 2 models have a touchscreen with navigation and Android Auto, which gives occupants access to apps like Spotify, Audible and Google Maps on the move. The touchscreen works very well, too - the interface is easy-to-use, so configuring settings and setting up a smartphone is straightforward.
Standard Equipment from launch:
1 is the basic trim and comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, LED running lights, electric windows and mirror adjustment, DAB radio, AUX and USB sockets.
2 adds gloss black trim details, leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob, part leather upholstery, roof rails, privacy glass, reversing sensors, auto wipers, rear ventilation, heated and foldable door mirrors, seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto and a reversing camera.
3 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, full black leather upholstery, front parking sensors, heated front seats and steering wheel, power adjustable driver’s seat, larger navigation screen, wireless phone charging and JBL premium audio.
First Edition models have grey leather upholstery, white interior inserts, keyless entry and ignition, heated outer rear seats, ventilated front seats and a sun roof. It also has adaptive cruise control as standard.
Child seats that fit a Kia Niro (2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Kia Niro (2016) like to drive?
- Engines range from 1.6 GDI Plug-In Hybrid to 1.6 GDI Hybrid
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 43–122 mpg
The standard Kia Niro uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine linked to a 44PS electric motor. All that combined gives you the equivalent of 141PS, while peak torque is 265Nm and available from just 1000rpm. The gearbox is a six-speed DCT automatic, which has two drive modes – D and S – for everyday or more spirited driving, respectively.
Thanks to its 1.56kWh battery - which is higher capacity than the Prius battery - the Niro can operate in pure electric mode over very limited distances and in certain circumstances, such as when moving slowly in traffic or when cruising at a steady speed. The rest of the time the engine works with the motor to deliver smooth performance, with plenty of punch from a standing start - particularly in S mode.
It’s not exactly a fast car when on the go, especially when it comes to overtaking performance, but it’s more than capable enough in everyday driving. Plus it is genuinely economical. Official figures are 74.3mpg for cars on 16-inch wheels or 64.2mpg for cars on larger 18-inch wheels. In real-life, 60mpg is a perfectly achievable figure without too much effort.
For those wanting to travel further under electric power, there's also a plug-in hybrid Niro. This can be charged using a standard three-pin plug or a Type 2 cable for fast chargers, taking less than three hours to fill up. This has an electric range of around 36 miles, meaning many drivers could theoretically commute under electric power alone.
On the road the Niro is very easy to drive, but it isn’t flawless. The steering, while light and accurate, self-centres quite aggressively and the ride quality is busy over rough surfaces. The brakes need a good shove, but they are strong, plus handling is neat, predictable and safe through corners.
In the default D mode, the automatic gearbox changes up early to maximise economy, but this comes at the expense of throttle response. Fortunately switching over to S just requires the driver to knock the gear selector to one side. It livens up acceleration noticeably and is handy when passing slow traffic.
For those thinking of switching to a hybrid for the first time, the Niro is a good place to start, since it feels exactly like any automatic car more or less all of the time. It’s only when running at low speeds as on battery power that the Niro feels unusual, but getting used to it takes no time at all.
|1.6 GDI Hybrid||64–76 mpg||-||88–101 g/km|
|1.6 GDI Plug-In Hybrid||-||-||29 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Kia Niro (2016)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Kia Niro (2016)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
Is a normal hybrid or PHEV better for stop start driving in traffic?
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What do owners think?
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